18 May, 2017 10:25
Paul and Roy with shovel and tree planting to support improving water quality in South East Queensland

A $2.4 million project tackling sediment and nutrient pollution in the Brisbane River and Moreton Bay is pioneering a new approach to improving regional water quality.

The project involves rehabilitating more than 3km of degraded banks along Laidley Creek in the Lockyer Valley by planting more than 20,000 native trees and grasses and installing six structures to stabilise the waterway.

This will prevent 16,000 tonnes of sediment, 11 tonnes of nitrogen and 22 tonnes of phosphorous from entering the catchment every year due to natural erosion.

Currently, up to 80 per cent of the sediment in the lower Brisbane River comes from eroded creeks in the Lockyer Valley.

Project partners Port of Brisbane Pty Ltd, Queensland Urban Utilities, and Healthy Land and Water joined the Minister for the Environment and Heritage Protection, Dr Steven Miles, to launch the second stage of works.

Minister for the Environment and Heritage Protection, Steven Miles, welcomed the project and praised the stakeholders for tackling the water quality issue head-on.

“Sediment pollution puts pressure on our waterways and marine areas,” Mr Miles said.

“It reduces water quality, reduces light penetration through the water and smothers plants. Environmental offsets provide opportunities for industry to better manage the discharge of nutrients from outlet pipes and sewage treatment plants.

“This coordinated approach to waterway management ensures we can keep valuable agricultural soil in the land, and reduce sediment pollution at the same time – and will have a positive impact on water quality in the waterways of Moreton Bay and South-east Queensland.”

Port of Brisbane CEO, Mr Roy Cummins, thanked Minister Miles for visiting the site and said Port of Brisbane was proud to be leading new catchment management solutions.

“This work proves that tackling sediment at the source delivers greater environmental outcomes throughout the catchment and ultimately at the Port, more than 100km away,” said Mr Cummins.

“For this to have the greatest impact across South-east Queensland, we’re calling on industry across the region to consider this approach as part of their overall stormwater management solutions.”

Queensland Urban Utilities Executive Leader of Planning, Paul Belz, said the project was a win-win for the environment and the business.

“By investing in green infrastructure, we will avoid the need for a costly upgrade to our Laidley Sewage Treatment Plant,” said Mr Belz.

“It provides a sustainable, long term solution that will benefit the environment and cater for population growth in the area.”

Stage 1 of the project recently faced its toughest test, with the creek bank withstanding significant flooding from ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

The site adjoins, and now protects, valuable farming land owned by Mulgowie Farming Company and other landholders.

Healthy Land and Water CEO, Julie McLellan, said the project at Laidley Creek shows what can be achieved when you bring landholders, industry and government together to achieve shared outcomes, in this case the resilience of the creek to flooding and the reduction of sediment pollution in South-east Queensland’s waterways.

“Eighty per cent of rivers in South-east Queensland are in private ownership, which makes community and landholder support vital to any successes in this area,” said Ms McLellan.

“We are lucky to have had such strong support for this project from Mulgowie Farms and other landholders along this stretch of Laidley Creek.”

The project is due to be completed by the end of next year.

About Urban Utilities
Established on July 1, 2010, Urban Utilities is one of the largest water distributor-retailers in Australia, providing water and sewerage services to more than 1.5 million residents in South East Queensland. Our 14,384km2 geographic area is made up of the five local government areas of Brisbane, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and Somerset.